Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, has been appointed to the European Economic and Social Committee, a body set up to consult on and influence European Union policy.
The EESC is made up of several hundred representatives from all EU member states, and represents the interests of employers, employee representatives such as trade unions, and a third group of not-for-profit bodies, which includes third sector organisations.
It is consulted by the European Commission on directives and can suggest legislation it would like to see put forward.
"Being on this body will give us early warning of legislation that might affect the sector," said Etherington. "It might also be a vehicle to articulate ideas we would like to see, such as a European Compact or a single European legal form for civil society organisations."